Two Pilots Killed During Air Force Training Flight

T-38 Talon flips over during a formation landing exercise.

U.S. Air Force T-38 Talon
The U.S. Air Force uses the supersonic T-38 Talon for a variety of training missions.U.S. Air Force

Two pilots from Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma, died after their T-38 Talon crashed during a training exercise. Col. Corey Simmons, commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base, said the “aircraft mishap” happened during the landing phase of a formation training flight.

Two T-38 Talons were involved in the accident. One of the airplanes flipped over, killing both airmen on board. The pilots were identified as 47-year-old Lt. Col. John “Matt” Kincade and 23-year-old 2nd Lt. Travis Wilkie. The other T-38 landed safely.

The accident happened at 9:10 local time on Thursday, November 21. Simmons said specially trained Air Force safety personnel from Vance will gather data from the accident and a safety board, led by a board president who will be selected by the command, will analyze the data. Simmons did not speculate as to what led to the accident. He expects the investigation to be complete in 30 to 60 days, after which a report can be expected.

Holding back tears in a press conference following the accident, Simmons said: “We are a close-knit family, and when tragedies like this occur, every member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Vance, Enid, feels it.”

The T-38 is a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic military trainer. According to the U.S. Air Force, the advanced jet trainer is powered by two GE J85-GE-5 turbojets with afterburners and can take off in as little as 2,300 feet and climb to nearly 30,000 feet in one minute. It is also used for formation, aerobatics, night, instrument and cross-country navigation training.